Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 29

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Lots of stuff in this chapter! It’s been alluded to quite a few times that things had not been easy in Gui Xiao’s life around the time of her breakup with Lu Chen. We find out details now. And at the (very sweet) part at the end of this chapter, don’t you think our male and female leads got their scripts mixed up? LOL. Gui Xiao certainly does take the initiative. (And I like her for that!)

Chapter 29 — So Shines the Hearts of the Pure and Loyal (2)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

On this first day reporting in for duty, Lu Yanchen’s superior did not give him any sort of breather.

On the timetable, Lu Yanchen had been slotted for a full morning of classes. According to what he had interpreted, the higher-ups had basically not even considered the potential problem that he, this former commander of the counter-terrorism squadron, would not come in to report for work. It was as if it was meant to be; he needed to be here, and he without a doubt would come.

Amongst the several military instructors was an old friend of Lu Yanchen’s. This person was missing an arm, which had been lost in approximately the year 2000 while carrying out a bomb disposal operation in a dessert shop in Changsha. When Lu Yanchen stepped in, that person was leisurely sipping tea, and catching sight of Lu Yanchen, he was gleeful. “Commander Lu, you’re here. We’re waiting only for you.” After saying this, he nudged over the document of rules and regulations that he had been holding and stated, “Ten minutes. Memorize it all. The higher-ups already said today that you’re going to be leading the charge to meet the new trainees, so you’ll need to first memorize this.”

Lu Yanchen gave a nod of greeting to the several other military instructors, all of whom had whole and intact bodies and limbs, and allowed his gaze to sweep over them as well.

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

Ten minutes later.

The broiling sunlight fell on his eyelids. Seventy people were standing at attention, waiting.

The majority of these were young men. Only on the far right was there a row of young women.

At the front of the drill grounds, six men garbed in simple black jackets and wearing the exact same style of black hat, unadorned of any logo, strode up in front of everyone and then came to a standstill, forming a row. Their postures were slightly more casual than those trainees’, but in the shadows beneath the brim of their hats, those six different faces were all very stern.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

From the right side of the line, Lu Yanchen stepped forward in front of the trainees.

With his back to the other training instructors, he faced these top-performing trainees who were before him now.

“All, the six of us are the six instructors who will be teaching and training your class for this term. You may address us as ‘Drillmaster’ or ‘Teacher.’ As for myself, my surname is Lu, Lu Yanchen. The timetable you received has my name on it. Today is our first time meeting one another. During the next eight months of this training period, you will get to know me better. What’s to follow are some long-winded words. They are all written in black and white in the rules and regulations, but right now I must recite every last word or else the several of us are going to have our pay deducted.”

Quite a few people in the group before him wanted to laugh, but they forced themselves to hold it in.

“This is not military academy, so the requirements will be relatively more relaxed. Listen well, remember these, and commit them to memory.” The corner of Lu Yanchen’s lips also seemed to carry hints of a smile, but very soon those disappeared. “First is dress. During the training period, uniforms must be worn. Uniforms are required to be a complete set. It is not permissible to intermix uniforms of different seasons to wear. During class, everyone shall wear standard leather dress shoes. Slippers, cloth types of shoes, or bare feet are not acceptable. Leather shoes shall be brown or black. Men’s heels shall not be higher than three centimetres; women’s heels shall not be higher than four centimetes. White or patterned socks are not allowed be worn. Shoes must be kept polished and clean.

“As for uniforms, we allow them to be changed out during season-change periods. From March 1 to 5, you are to switch to spring uniforms; from May 1 to 5, switch to summer uniforms; from October 1 to 5, switch to spring-autumn uniforms; and from December 1 to 5, switch to winter uniforms. During all group activities, everyone’s attire must be the same.

“What’s next are some minor rules. Eating while walking is not permitted. Smoking in public gatherings or non-smoking areas is not permitted. When wearing a uniform, the following conduct must not take place: being arm in arm with another person, hugging or being hugged around the waist, placing your arm on the shoulders of another person or having someone’s arm on your shoulder, placing your hands in your pockets, crossing your arms, placing your hands behind your back, sitting on the ground, engaging in horseplay, or engaging in loud, raucous behaviour.” He paused briefly, then raised his voice slightly, saying, “Is everything clear?”

Everyone responded in unison, “Yes, sir!”

<>Please support the translation by reading it at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com.  Thank you.

“All right, then, the rambling is done. There is just one more thing that I’m going to say. It’s from me, personally. Back when I joined the counter-terrorism front lines, my old commander gave us all a motto. I hope that all of you can find the motto that belongs to you. In the future, you can write it as the conclusion to your letter of last words. It’s very rousing and morale boosting.”

When he finished saying all this, he gave a light smile.

Upon seeing that the drillmaster was smiling, there was finally an outlet for everyone to release the restiveness that came from baking in the sun for half an hour, and they all began to grin.

“Drillmaster Lu, what is your motto?” a girl’s voice asked.

Lu Yanchen spoke very slowly, each word articulated in a respectful manner. “ ‘Thousands have fallen to shellfire and thousands have shed their blood, but each inch of land is worth an inch of gold.’ ”

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

There was a moment of silence.

“I’m taking that sentence!” someone declared.

“Any new ones, Drillmaster Lu?” someone asked.

“Oh yah! How about you give us a few, too? Give out a few more. There are so many of us that there aren’t enough ‘last words’ for all of us to share.”

With a vague smile, Lu Yanchen cast a glance at the person who was asking for more. “It’s not easy leading the troops of nowadays. You actually want multiple options for your last words?”

Laughter resonated around. The atmosphere was becoming ever more harmonious.

Lu Yanchen’s voice suddenly sank. “At ease!”

The troop immediately quieted down and together assumed an at ease position.

“Attention!”

Instantly, every trainee stood at attention, back erect.

Lu Yanchen’s gaze slid over the first row of unfamiliar, young faces and continued moving beyond them. In the back row, there were some experienced ones who were older than him. He stated, “Two different lines, but the same message. I hope you will never have to use them.”

Stillness blanketed the drill grounds.

“ ‘In life and death myself I give to the interests of my country. Neither personal gain nor loss shall influence the fulfillment of my duty.[1]’ ” His back was straight and erect as he looked at these people who in the future would be entering the front lines of explosive ordnance disposal, and unconsciously he straightened his own hat’s brim. “ ‘His life he lays down for his country’s plights, and views death as merely coming home[2].’ ”

His voice was not loud, but it was very clear and carried much strength.

If you do not have the boldness it takes to view death as merely coming home, you should not go into the line of work of explosive ordnance disposal. Forcing yourself into it will only bring harm on you and others.

<>Your support by reading this story only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting, would be greatly and sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

At noon, he went to the instructors’ dining hall to get food, but the only food remaining were two portions that had been individually set aside. Taking away one of them, he destroyed it in five minutes, leaving not a crumb behind, and then brought the stainless steel meal tray over to the dish cart. A lean, old drillmaster hurried in, took the last meal that was left, and found a corner, where he began eating. A glance at the sign on the wall showed that this dining hall was a non-smoking area, so Lu Yanchen began walking out to look for a place where he could have a smoke.

When he stepped out of the main doors, two of his immediate supervisors were gathered behind two other people, following them and speaking in low tones as they all strode inside.

Spotting Lu Yanchen, his supervisor beckoned to him. “Lu Yanchen, come. Come here.”

Lu Yanchen walked over to them. By intuition, he was able to guess who this person presently in front of him was. If this had been in the past, he would have needed to immediately stand to attention and give a salute.

But now, he merely removed his hat and looked directly at the man who was oldest in this group and whose gaze was also taking measure of him. “Lu Chen? I am Gui Yuanshan.”

Eleven years ago, the two never did meet.

But due to the “favour” bestowed on him by this man, in his first two years in the military, he had needed to work even harder than other people.

Lu Yanchen unperturbedly extended his right hand. “Uncle, hello. I am Lu Yanchen.”

Eleven years later, here in this place, the two of them finally met.

<>Please support this translation by only reading it at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting. This would be greatly appreciated by the translator.

Regarding the problem that had arisen in Gui Xiao’s family back during those years, Lu Yanchen had later intentionally asked his younger girl cousin.

The ripples caused by that issue had not been big, but neither had they been small. Later, the matter had been quelled, but there were still people who had continued talking about it in private. About the time when Gui Xiao was in her first year of high school, her father and mother were at a point of divorce. However, because “having a harmonious family” is a very important measure for promotion consideration in a man’s military career, Gui Xiao’s father had adamantly refused to divorce. Their marriage was a military marriage[3], so if Gui Xiao’s father did not agree to divorce, her mother was unable to do anything for the time being.

But unexpectedly, there was a sudden turn in the situation.

At the time, Gui Xiao had taken her mother’s side and threatened her father, saying that if he did not agree to the divorce with his mother, she, as his daughter, would report him for having an extramarital affair. This would be an extremely grave form of misconduct, let alone the fact that being reported non-anonymously by his own daughter would cause him to be utterly disgraced and was even more deplorable than the divorce itself. The final outcome was that the divorce did occur, but this matter did indeed also affect Gui Xiao’s father’s career advancement. As a result of having gotten a divorce, he missed out on a very good opportunity. And in a moment of rage, he kicked Gui Xiao out of the home.

Originally, there were really no issues with her living with her mother since, after all, her mother was a foreign affairs officer and would have no problems providing for a daughter. Gui Xiao’s mother, though, became seriously ill and in total spent about two to three years in the hospital. Not until later did her health finally begin to improve.

It was in such an environment and circumstances during her high school and early-university periods that Gui Xiao had grown up.

With no one to help her and no one by her side.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

Lu Yanchen remembered, during that period, every time they were on the phone, Gui Xiao would always get angry over a trivial matter. He did not know why her temper had suddenly become so poor, and he, too, had been tired and did not want to talk, so he would simply listen to her as she spoke. Gui Xiao would talk and talk and then eventually dissolve into sobs. “Why aren’t you talking to me? It costs me money to call you, too… Say something.”

Once she cried, his heart would ache, but he would also grow frustrated, not knowing why she was crying and, what was more, not knowing how he should console her.

He would think, maybe he had said the wrong thing, and so he would hastily hang up the phone to allow her to calm down.

And thus it became this vicious cycle. He did not know how things between them had evolved into this. He simply could not figure it out. Even when they had broken up and later he had returned to Beijing to try to find her, he still could not figure it out. Until he learned of everything that had happened and the effects it had brought, and then, naturally, he understood.

On the one hand, Gui Xiao at that time had wanted to maintain her dignity and not tell him, who was so far away, about all those troubles in her family. Also, she had not wanted to negatively affect him. However, she was unable to suppress the enormous upheaval in her life either. Those feelings of depression and pain, therefore, transformed into unreasonable tantrums and quarreling. Back then, if Gui Xiao had let him know even just a little bit, things would not have been so. And, the trajectory of his life might also have thus been changed.

If he had known, he would have come back after his two years of conscript service—he definitely would have come back.

So, looking back on all these years, it could be said that, through a combination of all sorts of unintended circumstances, it was Gui Xiao who had allowed him to become who he was now in the present.

She had allowed him to not quit halfway through and to continue walking down that path to today.

<>The translator sincerely requests that you read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

Inside his supervisors’ office, Lu Yanchen and his supervisors together were in charge of receiving this “unexpected visitor.”

In all honesty, he had not thought that he would be able to so easily see her father. During that phone call on the steppes, this elder had likely been lashing out in anger. The words from him had been harsh and stabbed straight at all the rawest points, stripping Lu Yanchen’s entire family bare and laying it out to criticize. And with regard to that major, tragic incident, this man had practically wanted to denounce him as a sinner who should be condemned through the ages, to decry him as an enemy of the public. Now, in this moment… the situation was different from what it had been then, but the difference was not all that big.

Gui Xiao’s father was treating his coming here as a work matter.

Lu Yanchen, therefore, conducted himself in a manner that was all business. In contrast, one of his supervisors thought very highly of him and was constantly explaining how hard it had been to finally snatch Lu Yanchen out of the hands of the many other units and bring him here. People with true, on-the-field experience are the ones who will forever be the pillars of the country—this was his supervisor’s assessment of him.

Regarding this, Gui Xiao’s father did not offer too many comments.com only 

Gui Xiao’s father had already seen Lu Yanchen’s photograph before; it was inside Lu Yanchen’s individual file. As for the bias that Gui Xiao’s father had against him, it was always there and had never diminished in the slightest. Gui Xiao was his only daughter. After that whole incident, he had set aside his pride and his phone calls to her became steady and unbroken, to the point that they were even more frequent than when she had left home to go away for middle school. There were many years of inquiring about her well-being and expressing his concern for her before his daughter at last slowly began to interact with him again.

Her father was still serving in the military, her mother worked in foreign affairs, and the girl herself, having come back from taking postgraduate studies abroad, had a good education, a good career, and a beautiful countenance. His greatest regret was his neglect of his daughter and her discipline during those several years in which he had left her at her gugu’s home for her to go to middle school. Never had he expected that she would still, to this day, have feelings for a boy she met in middle school.

“What you did out on the steppe helped yourself.” Prior to leaving, Gui Xiao’s father, in a seldom-seen moment, actually spoke some words to Lu Yanchen. “This particular job is quite good in all aspects, but it is not fit for someone who wants to settle down and get married. Since you have other, better choices, you can consider this a little more from the perspective of your family.”

It was as if Lu Yanchen could see through everything. He sensed that this elder was backing down but was also requiring that he, too, demonstrate some concessions.

Lu Yanchen smiled in return. “It’s not easy for the country to foster and raise up someone who can go out on the front lines. Another two years working there means another two years gained. If I don’t throw my life into it, I will be letting down all those comrades and old superiors who sacrificed their lives one step before me.”

At times, Lu Yanchen carried a condescending sort of pride. As someone who had stepped down only after many years of battling on the front lines, without pride, he would not have amounted to anything; without self-confidence, he would not have been able to lead any troops. His prowess was not concealable and, in fact, shone extremely brightly. Alas, Gui Xiao basically had no chance to see it.

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Seven o’clock was the time that Lu Yanchen had planned for himself to arrive home, so at six o’clock he left his workplace.

He arrived at her home approximately ten minutes early.

As expected, Gui Xiao had divided up the tableful of jiaozi to eat in two meals. There had been no originality either. Lunch’s jiaozi was boiled, while dinner’s was pan-fried. The first thing he did after arriving home was eat the pan-fried jiaozi that she had left for him, and then he tidied up the kitchen. Setting the dishes onto a washing cloth to drip-dry, he planned in his mind that later tonight he would use a wiping cloth to wipe those dry and then put them back into the cupboard.

Gui Xiao was already dressed. In great spirits, she pulled him out the door. The two walked along Jinbao Street, down Wangfujing Pedestrian Street, and along Chang’an Avenue until they were in front of Tiananmen[4] [Gate of Heavenly Peace]. Along the way, she made a big deal about pointing out to him a club, claiming that that was once the “Passion Club[5],” the place that had been for drinking, singing karaoke, and finding certain forms of “entertainment,” but then was later raided by police.

The approximate route (exact start point unknown) that Gui Xiao and Lu Yanchen took, from Jinbao Street all the way to Tiananmen. Across the street from Tiananmen is Tiananmen Square.

When she was telling him this, she deliberately took a glimpse at him. Lu Yanchen, though, wore a look of “Oh, I learned something here.” He was a man who had been out along the border areas; what would any of this have to do with him?

Tiananmen shone radiantly with lights. Behind them, traffic streamed ceaselessly along Chang’an Avenue.

Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) at night. Photo taken from Tiananmen Square. The cars directly in front of Tiananmen are driving on Chang’an Avenue. (Image credit: “Tiananmen Square flag lowering” by Gavin Anderson, original posted in https://www.flickr.com/photos/andersondotcom/, image used under CC BY-SA 2.0)

When he caught sight of a soldier standing on duty, he could not help taking a few extra glances in that direction. Gui Xiao led him through the underground passage to the square across the road. Scattered all around them were tourists. Gui Xiao nestled her face into his chest while her hands did something, though what it was he did not know. Then, very soon, she lifted her head and gave a light “mm.” Lu Yanchen knew she wanted a kiss… But they were out in public with people all around, and moreover, they were right at the edge of the square. As someone who had been a soldier himself, he truly…

Gui Xiao made yet another sound through her nose. This time, she was pouting.

The two of them had never had many times when they had gone on dates or done other normal dating things. Back then they had been too young, and even when they were being affectionate and intimate with one another, they had had to hide away from people. In his heart, he more or less knew when things in their relationship had been unfair for her or when she had had to put up with a lot, so basically, whether she could think of them or not, he tried to do his utmost to make up for those times. Lu Yanchen pulled her even further off to the side. In the lights that glowed in this dark night, he brought his head down and brushed his lips against hers, slowly moistening them. Then he probed his tongue in, searching for hers.

A cool sensation. She pushed something from her mouth into his.

The instant Lu Yanchen’s tongue contacted it, he knew what it was. Pulling away from her, he spat the object out.

“Surprised, huh?” Gui Xiao had already broken out into chortles first, and gloating over the success of her plan, she brought out some moist towelettes from her pocket. “Hurry. Hurry and wipe it clean and then put it on me. I need to go into the office tomorrow and flaunt it around.”

Lu Yanchen had become completely motionless where he was. After a long while, he lifted a brow and brought his gaze onto her.

“Don’t be mad.” Gui Xiao hurriedly took the ring back from him and wiped it with a moist towelette, all the while pleading in a small voice, “Wedding rings come in a pair. You buy those. Those are worn every day. This one is useless; it’s just used the one time, on the day of the wedding. It’s too much of a waste if you buy it.”

“How much did it cost?” he asked, his tone cool.

Of course I can’t tell you. It was so expensive…

“Gui Xiao.”

Gui Xiao was very much lacking in confidence in her case. Pouting her lip out, she held the ring out to him. “I’ve bought it already…”

She simply did not want Lu Yanchen to have to put up with any lower treatment. Everything had to be the best so that he could marry her in grand style and no one could criticize him of anything behind his back. She would not allow such a scenario to occur.

Lu Yanchen’s eyes were fixed on her for a lengthy time. Finally, he took the ring from her and also removed the moist towelette from her right hand, arbitrarily stuffing the towelette into his jacket pocket. By the lamplight that illuminated the square, he studied her slender, creamy fingers, found her middle one, and slowly slipped the ring on.

After he had slid the ring to the base of her finger, he impassively said, “Wear this first, just for fun. In the future, I’ll buy you an even bigger one.”

Watching his solemn motion of placing the ring on her, Gui Xiao gave a light “mm” in response.

She could feel her nose tingling. Really tingling.

Seeing her eyelashes fluttering ever so slightly and also the smile in her eyes, which she was trying hard to conceal, he gave a faint sigh. Due to his reeling emotions, there was a slight husky texture to his voice. “Still want to kiss?”

As expected, she immediately whipped her head up, her eyes glistening with dampness. “Yes, yes…”

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only 

[1] 苟利国家生死以,岂因祸福避趋之. This is a line from the poem 《赴戍登程口占示家人》 “Words to My Family Prior to Embarking on My Journey to Defend the Country” by 林则徐Lin Zexu (1785-1850), an official of the Qing dynasty. For a time, he was exiled to Xinjiang, and this poem was written as he was preparing to journey there.

[2] 捐躯赴国难,视死忽如归. These are the last two lines from the poem 《白马篇》 “White Horse,” written in the Three Kingdoms period by 曹植 Cao Zhi, about one who dedicates his life to defending the frontiers.

[3] In China, laws are in place to specifically protect military marriages. However, that makes the rights of the spouse of a military serviceman relatively restricted, and in general, a divorce can only occur if the serviceman agrees to it, unless proof of misconduct (for example, having an extramarital affair, etc.) of the military serviceman can be provided.

[4] 天安门. Tiananmen, also known as the Gate of Heavenly Peace is north of Tiananmen Square and, in old Beijing, was formerly the entrance to the Imperial City.

[5] 天上人间. Beijing’s 天上人间 nightclub had the English name, Passion Club, but was also known as “Heaven On Earth,” which is a literal translation of its Chinese name. It was one of the most illustrious (and notorious) nightclubs of the city. On May 11, 2010, police raided it and shut it down. Gui Xiao should not be referring to the actual Passion Club here, as that one’s location was not within walking distance of Tiananmen. The club she is pointing out here was probably well known for similar things.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
29 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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17 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 29

  1. Thank you Hoju such a sweet chapter 😍

  2. Thanks Hoju…
    ❤❤❤❤❤

  3. Thank you for the update.

  4. Thank you Hoju! Loving this couple !

    • They are mature, yet they have preserved the purity of the relationship from their teenage years. So sweet. So glad you like them!
      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  5. considering the proposal successful
    thank you

  6. Thank you
    The story is getting sweeter and sweeter 😍

  7. Wow, Gui Xiao! You are awesome 👏.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  8. He’s so charming!

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